“The major need for equity capital in marine transport,” is driving uncharacteristic interest in the shipping industry from shrewd private equity  investors, says Wilbur Ross, chairman and CEO of WL Ross & Co. LLC, which has made large investments in several niche carriers over the last couple of years.

In October, the veteran leveraged buyout and distressed-asset investor announced a $110 million investment to take a majority stake in Navigator Gas, a leading owner of liquid petroleum gas carriers. And in 2011, Ross joined a syndicate of other A-list private equity investors in backing Diamond S Shipping, which won Mergers & Acquisitions’ M&A Mid-Market Award for Deal of the Year for 2011 for its purchase of 30 tankers and charters from Cido Shipping of Hong Kong.

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